Disclaimer: I do not own the Power Rangers.
Author's Note: In the original version of this story I had intended to use minors characters from the show as the Dark Turbo Rangers. It made sense to use people who were involved in their lives but not major characters. When I worked on the extended version I decided to use Ashley as Purple Racer, Cassie as Silver Racer and Carlos as Black Racer instead. TJ makes an appearance too.
The Dark Racers Part 4 - The Midnight Runner
Porto knew he had been pushing his luck. Following the debut of the Purple Racer and then the less impressive but still triumphant appearance of the Silver Racer, Divatox's engineer had decided to press ahead with building his next evil Turbo Ranger. He should have known that his luck would never hold long enough for him to be successful three times in a row. Especially since he had decided that his third attempt would produce two new evil Turbo Rangers instead of just one.
It had been a mistake and the two humans he had chosen had been nothing but trouble from the start.
"Bring it on fish face!" TJ yelled. He held his baseball club at the ready.
TJ Johnson lived with his uncle in Angel Grove. His parent had sent him there to get an education and a safer life. They had decided that despite the risks of monster attacks, it was a safer environment for their child. TJ had adjusted to his new home, had joined the Baseball Team and settled down at school. Apart from the regular disruptions that caused the citizens of Angel Grove to seek shelter, his life had been better.
Unfortunately that better life had taken a turn for the worse when he had drawn the attention of Divatox and her crew. TJ had been selected by Porto to serve as the new Gold Racer, the fourth in his series of evil Turbo Rangers. The boy had proven to be a natural match for Red Turbo and Porto had based the template of his suit on the Red Turbo Ranger's uniform.
The problem was that the boy had been armed at the time the Piranhatrons had tried to snatch him and his baseball bat had helped prevent them from swarming him. Even when he had been transported to the ship, the boy had continued to fight. He had made a mess of Porto's workshop before Rygog had intervened.
For some reason after he had been subdued and taken to a cell, Elgar had though it a good idea not to remove the baseball bat, which meant the moment the door had been opened, the Gold Racer had made a break for freedom.
"Do be careful," Porto urged. "I don't want him damaged."
The Piranhatrons continued to rush forward, but the young man continued to lash out, hitting them as hard as possible. Eventually though the odds were too great and they managed to pin him down long enough for Porto to place a larva in the youth's left ear.
"That's better," Porto decided as he saw the fight vanish from the Gold Racer's eyes. It was clear that TJ was resisting, but the larva had evolved to control its host and the boy soon succumbed. "You'll make fine addition to Divatox's forces."
He missed the scowl that appeared on the Gold Racer's face, before TJ's expression turned blank.
Carlos Vallerte was a boy with a secret even if he didn't know. His family had lived in Angel Grove for years due to the Ley Lines that crisscrossed the city, which they used to shield them from the eyes of those that would hunt them. For Carlos was not completely human; generations earlier a female of his line had fallen in love with a vampire and even though she had not been turned, she had conceived his child. Those genes had carried down through the generations, remaining dormant. Sadly that unnoticeable difference between Carlos and his peers made him a perfect candidate for Porto.
Indeed when Porto had noticed the dormant genes and determined that they could unlock extra abilities, the Black Racer powers had been designed to take advantage of his heritage. His not-quite-human biology did nothing to stop the larva from taking control of his mind.
When Porto had created his first evil Turbo Ranger, he had discovered that in order to connect a human to the Power of Turbo - a power derived from the extra-universal energy known as the Speed Force - he needed to inject the human with a potential lethal cocktail of chemicals to alter their physiology and a modulator device to control the initial flow of power. Purple Racer had proven that the technique was sound and with a small change to the modulator Silver Racer had shown no signs of the priming solution after her first battle.
As Carlos and TJ stood ready to accept their new powers with arms at their sides, Porto decided that he would take the opportunity to test the improvements he had made to the priming fluid and the modulator. He had gave Carlos his new improved variation of the priming solution, gambling that if anything went wrong the boy's non-human heritage would mean that he could change back to the original recipe. He had attached a modified modulator to TJ's chest that would absorb less of the initial energy surge and make the whole process quicker.
"You will be the Black Racer," he told Carlos as he handed him his Turbo Key. "I think we shall call you Shadow Stalker."
He then turned to TJ and placed a Turbo Key in his hand. "And you will be known by the name Magma Flare as the Gold Racer."
Although they were a team and their powers were similar, each of Porto's creations had their own unique strengths. By drawing on a secondary link to the Speed Force they could bolster their powers, but doing so placed additional strain on them; it was a potentially powerful tool he planned to use when their usefulness neared an end.
The Purple Racer's powers were the most adaptable since Porto had used rewritable components when building her morpher. It meant that at any time he could upgrade her abilities and she could add new weapons to her arsenal as she had done when she touched Copy Otter's duplicates of the Turbo Power Weapons. However her morpher was the least advance because it had been the first he completed and later models included those things he had been unable to add the first time.
Purple Racer's morpher had a secondary link to the Speed Force that when used could generate an energy field to slow the momentum of objects or people. Porto theorised that by directing the energy through her armour she would be able to direct the ability to the point where she could freeze and object or paralyse a person. It made her the fastest of the group.
Silver Racer could not affect the speed of physical objects to the degree that Purple Racer could; there was some overlap in their abilities but each morpher had been fine tuned to focus on their own strengths. The secondary feed on her morpher meant that her armour could absorb certain types of energy and transform it into light which could either manifest as a blinding flare or an energy bolt. She had already used the ability once although her lack of caution had made the attack backfire when it had blinded Purple Racer. Porto expected that she could do the same thing using sound but didn't want to think of the chaos such an attack would create if Silver Racer didn't learn to use it properly.
Black Racer's capabilities had yet to be tested, but Porto had designed them for stealth. As such Black Racer's armour could absorb light, sound and heat, making him undetectable. When moving fast enough he could phase through solid objects. Such a state made him immune to physical attacks. The downside was that while in such a state he could not cause physical damage to the world around him, although he could disrupt electronics. Porto also needed to find a way to reduce the time needed to switch between states since Black Racer was vulnerable during the transition.
Finally there was Gold Racer whose powers were the culmination of Porto's work. Porto had designed the Gold Racer's armour to allow him to use any ability associated with the Speed Force. That meant any ability possessed by the other evil Turbo Rangers and a few extra tricks. Gold Racer could use the secondary feed from his morpher to gather increased body mass, making him super strong and almost invulnerable for short periods. Of course like the Black Racer, Gold Racers full abilities had not been assessed and were only a theory, but Porto expected him to be the most powerful of his creations.
He glanced at the clock and realised he was late.
"Oh dear, Queen Divatox will be waiting for us," Porto told them. "Activate your powers."
"Shift into Turbo!" Carlos and TJ cried.
Porto had based the Black Racer powers on Green Turbo and he was pleased with the result. The Black Racer's armour seemed to absorb light causing him to appear translucent. It was clear the new formula for the priming fluid had been a success. Porto promised to use the new mix in the creation of future Rangers.
Then he had turned his attention to Gold Racer and had almost panicked. The new modulator had clearly not worked and the Turbo Morpher was starting to overload as it drew an increasingly lethal surge of energy into TJ's body; it was only the activation of Gold Racer's powers that stopped the excess energy from killing him.
He shuffled for the door, motioning for Black Racer to follow. Once through he sealed the workshop as the modulator failed and the Gold Racer powers exploded.
Divatox had been observing Silver Racer as she trained with Rygog and Elgar. The two underlings had not taken it easy on Cassie as they worked to improve her skills. It appeared that pain was indeed a good teacher as the girl's reactions had increased and she had clearly started to use strategy to keep the two from attacking at the same time.
Just as she was about to end the training, the Sub Craft shook violently. A loud explosion was heard and the hull seemed to buckle. Outside a golden ball of energy shot off into space.
Porto pulled himself to his feet, checked that Black Racer was unscathed and then nervously opened the door to his workshop. He was not surprised to find the room had been decimated by the uncontrolled energy. The Speed Force was highly destructive and his first impression was that nothing had survived the explosion.
"All those inventions lost," he lamented. "She will be furious."
He fought the urge to run. There was nowhere to hide. At least he could offer the Black Racer as a partial success.
"Yes, my Queen?" he answered as an angry Divatox stormed into the room and stopped short, taken aback by the utter destruction before her.
"What was that?" she demanded.
"A slight miscalculation on my part," Porto offered. "It won't happen again."
"See that it doesn't," she almost snarled. Then she spotted Black Racer for the first time. "And what is that?"
Porto breathed a sigh of relief. It seemed that spotting the Black Racer had been enough to distract Divatox from her rant. And since he could present the Black Racer as the end result of his failed experiment, there was no reason she would find out that his mistake had cost her a Turbo Ranger.
"Allow me to present Shadow Stalker, the Black Racer," he said.
Divatox seemed pleased as she ran her hands over her newest Ranger. Given what he knew of her tastes, Porto considered it lucky that Carlos was still morphed.
"Very nice work Porto," she commended. "We'll send him to Earth immediately."
"Of course, my Queen."
"And clean this mess up," she added with a dismissive wave. "Zedd and Rita would never allow Finster to make this sort of mess."
"At once," Porto agreed eager for her to leave.
Behind him there was a loud groan and some of the debris shifted. He fought back a wince. Nothing could have survived that sort of explosion, could it?
"What happened?" TJ groaned as he tried to clear what remained of a cabinet from his legs.
And at that moment Porto knew that his luck had run out and any chance to pretend that the explosion was a result of creating the Black Racer was also gone.
Instead of being angry though Divatox was staring at the bare-chested teen with a hungry expression.
"Why Porto, you never told me you had a spare," she teased before walking over to the clearly confused TJ.
Porto saw the boy wince as the much older pirate ran her hands over his body. A part of him was tempted to intervene and save the boy from a fate no sane person should endure: a night with Divatox. Another part of him that was dedicated to his continued survival and good health quickly dismissed such a foolish notion.
She sniffed the air. "Ah, fresh meat. Have him cleaned up and sent to my chambers. I haven't sampled a young human before."
Porto nodded and breathed a sigh of relief once Divatox had gone. He had seen the look of disgust on TJ's face and realised that the human was no longer under their control. It was only the boy's confusion that prevented him from attacking. And if he sent him to Divatox's bed chamber in such a condition she would likely kill the boy and punish him for good measure. No, he needed to think of a reason to get the human off the ship before she called for him.
The Power Chamber's sensors had detected the explosion from the Sub Craft and had analysed the golden energy that had left the vessel. It had not taken long for Zordon and Alpha to deduce that Porto had tried to create another Turbo Ranger. They had been relieved that it appeared the attempt had failed; based on their understanding of the Power of Turbo that sort of explosion suggested a catastrophic failure of some sort.
They could only hope that nobody had been killed in the incident and that maybe it would mean there would be no further surprises from Divatox. The sounding of the alarm meant that whatever had happened hadn't stopped the pirate from attacking.
While TJ had been safely locked away until Porto could find a way to dispose of him, Purple Racer and Silver Racer had been sent to Angel Grove to draw out the Rangers. As Zordon had suspected following the Turbo Rangers' previous encounter with Purple Racer, Divatox was not above using her evil Rangers to draw the Turbo Rangers into battle.
It was clear that Purple Racer and Silver Racer had been ordered to create havoc but had not been instructed to injure anybody. They mostly targeted parked cars, street furniture and the odd fire hydrant. They were aware that they didn't need to do anything more to get the Turbo Rangers' attention.
As the five Turbo Rangers arrived the battle started with Pink and Green Turbo fighting Silver Racer while Purple Racer held her own against Red, yellow and Blue Turbo. A flurry of punches and kicks combined with the use of weapons heralded the beginning of an intense battle.
"Now," Divatox ordered as she watched the battle. "Send in my Black Racer."
Black Racer stealthily approached his target, using his powers to remain hidden until the last possible moment. There was a moment where Carlos knew he was completely vulnerable, solid enough to see and to be injured, but still unable to cause physical harm to his opponent. Fortunately the Turbo Rangers were so involved in the battle they never noticed the attack until it was too late.
Yellow Turbo had been the first target and when Black Racer appeared he had held little back. He had slammed into the Ranger with all the force he could muster and had then pummelled her until the others had noticed. The moment they had done so, he had darted for the shadows, disappearing only to reappear and clip Green Turbo from the side.
Stealth attacks, hidden weapons within his armour and every dirty trick in the book culminated in a vicious opponent. And when he coordinated his attack with Silver Racer, who activated her Flare Attack, the Rangers found themselves blinded.
"Divatox is ready to accept your surrender any time," he told them as a blow from a stiletto spike on Silver Racer's heel almost punctured Green Turbo's lung.
"Rangers never give up," Red Turbo told him.
"You'd know that if you were a real Ranger," Yellow Turbo added.
Black Racer shrugged before pulling a very large weapon from somewhere.
"We'll see how defiant you are after this: Shadow Hammer!"
A very long handled hammer similar to something seen in a fairground appeared in his hands. He raised it high and swung it into the ground. The vibration threw the Turbo Rangers off their feet as the street cracked. With a burst of speed he shot forward, using his momentum to increase the force behind his hammer as it smashed into the Rangers.
"Turbine Laser!" Purple Racer called while the Turbo Rangers were grounded.
Silver and Black Racer joined their comrade as a large weapon flew toward them. The Turbo Rangers had not seen this weapon before, but they were experienced enough to know that when an enemy pulled out a large gun with a name it was best not to be standing in its way. It soon became clear the Black Racer didn't care if they stayed in place or ran away as he gave the order to fire.
"No!" Blue Turbo cried before darting back into the line of sight. "Metallic Armour, Power Up!"
Not sure what their rash team-mate was up to, but trusting that it was important, the others followed suit, with Red Turbo activating the Tyre Shield for added protection. It didn't work as the Rangers were struck by the blast and knocked through a nearby building. They were lucky they emerged from the other side and that the building had been cleared because the blast had managed to level it. Had the Rangers not been in the way the damage would have been much worse.
"This is the last time you will be allowed to walk away Turbo Rangers," Purple Racer announced. "We're the Turbo Racers, and the next time we meet we'll be aiming to take you down permanently."
Before the Rangers could gather themselves to respond, the three Turbo Racers had gone.
"What were you thinking? You could have killed us!" Tasha yelled.
Justin glared back defiantly. He was in just as much pain as the other Rangers and was not in the mood to listen to one of Tasha's lectures about his recklessness.
"I was thinking that Turbine Laser was powerful enough to take out half the city; what was I supposed to do?" he demanded. "You saw how much power that thing had. Think how much damage they could have caused if we hadn't stopped it. There was a monster shelter nearby; do you think reinforced concrete would have stopped it? The Metallic Armour protected us; those people had nothing. I never told you had to jump back in there with me."
"Yeah as if I was going to let you get yourself killed," Tasha retorted.
It was hard to remember sometimes but Justin and Tasha were especially close. They had bonded during their time in the orphanage and that bond had grown stronger when they had become Rangers. It was an odd mix of friendship, family and the possibly the start of something more. When she got on his case it was because she was worried about him, but that concern and annoyance normally gave way to light-hearted remarks as the situation calmed.
"Ai-yi-yi, Justin was right, the readings for that weapon were off the scale," Alpha supplied.
"While I do not approve of risking your lives more than necessary I applaud your courage," Zordon told them. "The Turbine Laser is an incredibly powerful weapon and you actions saved the lives of many innocents today."
"These Turbo Rangers are powerful," Rosa conceded.
"Turbo Racers," Franklin corrected.
"Whatever they call themselves, we've had out butts handed to us almost every time we've fought them."
Aside from their first encounter with the Silver Racer, the Rangers had lost several battles with Divatox's creations. And it seemed that Black Racer was even more dangerous due to his ability to sneak up on them.
"We need to find out who he is," Fred stated.
The others nodded. While knowing the identities of their opponents had not helped so far it robbed Divatox of the satisfaction of keeping them in the dark. Maybe learning his identity would give them a clue to breaking whatever control Divatox was using. The Turbo Rangers wanted to be optimistic, but it was clear they had their doubts.
Porto studied the remains of the Gold Racer's Turbo Morpher. In the end he had to admit it was a lost cause and the re was no chance he could repair it. And with the destruction of his workshop he could not make anymore. He had been shocked to discover that two prototypes had survived, but they would take time to finish and he doubted Divatox would spare him the time to work on them or be patient enough to wait for results.
He had been pleased that there had been no adverse side effects from using the Turbine Laser. The large weapon had been designed to be used by a minimum of four Rangers due to the way it drew large amounts of energy through their morphers. He had been worried that using it without Gold Racer would have caused them to lose their powers as well. Other than exhaustion that would pass, there had been no lasting damage.
Which was just as well because following the success of Black Racer the Dianthe Queen was already demanding that they be sent back to finish the Rangers off. Having heard Purple Racer's declaration that they would take the Rangers out next time they met, he knew Divatox would be more impatient than usual. He just hoped than when the time came the Turbo Racers would not disappoint.
Detective Park had identified two missing teenagers that Divatox might have used as her Black Racer. TJ Johnson and Carlos Vallerte had gone missing on the same day and their guardians had call the police as soon as they realised they were missing. The news that there were two missing teens caused additional concern after the explosion Zordon had detected. Was it possible Divatox had accidentally killed one of the missing boys or did it mean there was one more evil Ranger to come? He knew the Rangers would never ask for the former over the latter possibility, but he also knew that they desperately hoped there would be no further additions to the pirate's forces.
The Turbo Rangers had been run off their feet by just three Turbo Racers; the pirate had grown tired of referring to them as evil Turbo Rangers. The addition of Black Racer had added a new dynamic to their battles since the Rangers' Power enhanced senses were unable to provide any warning whenever he used his stealth abilities. He had also been able to improve Silver Racer's usefulness by giving her clear instruction about when and how to attack.
And the Turbo Rangers had discovered that they were at an even great disadvantage during Zord battles. The Turbo Racers were unable to form their own Megazord, but the use of their powers allowed them the ability to grow to Megazord size at any point in a battle without assistance from Divatox. The three Turbo Racers had repeatedly used a strategy where one would grow to force the Turbo Rangers to summon their Zords allowing the two remaining Racers to attack with their own Zords.
It had proven a sound strategy. The Turbo Racers had obviously realised that the Rangers needed all five Zords to form the Megazord. Removing just one Zord permanently would prevent them from doing so. And Black Racer's Zord, which had been based on a Hummer, had proven itself tough enough to smash into any of the Zords.
The problem seemed to be that whenever they thought they had seen everything, the Turbo Racers came up with a new surprise. If the Turbo Rangers wanted to triumph it seemed they need to spring a few surprises of their own.
"We need to figure out what they'll do next and then find a way to stop them," Franklin decided. His eyes shifted to a picture of his family and knew what had to be done.
With the success of the Turbo Racers it seemed Divatox had all but forgotten about TJ, much to the relief of her more intelligent crewmen. The pirate's affairs always caused problem for her underlings who had to deal with the wrath of a woman scorned.
So after being deposited in a small room, TJ had been left alone. One of the Piranhatrons delivered food twice a day and despite the room being small, it had all the facilities he needed with the exception of a way to leave.
Despite the failure of the Turbo Morpher, TJ had emerged unscathed. The process had been successful enough to eliminate all traces of the priming chemicals from his blood and had protected him from the explosion. However the same could not be said for the larva Porto had placed in his ear. The shockwave had liquefied the small creature and as TJ had slept the remains had been ejected from his ear, leaving him free from outside control.
Now it was a matter of escaping, which TJ knew would be a present. The previous time he had been armed and had some value to his captors. Since he was back to being locked in a room and could recall a large explosion, he suspected that was no longer the case. That didn't mean he would find his way out, just that he needed to be patient.
End of Part